Five Good Questions: Gene Hoots – Pay Attention To The Thin CowVW Staff
Gene Hoots is the chairman of CornerCap Investment Counsel, an advisory firm that he co-founded in 1989. He has worked in finance and investments for over fifty years. His career in the corporate world included 21 years with R. J. Reynolds Industries where he spent a decade managing that company’s $4 billion employee benefit and savings plan investments. He is also the author of Pay Attention to the Thin Cow.
Gene Hoots – Pay Attention to the Thin Cow
Pay Attention to the Thin Cow – Description
Pay Attention to the Thin Cow by Gene Hoots
Since 1979 when Tom Quinn and Gene Hoots began investing together, there have been a major bull market, a gigantic bubble, two major bear markets, and heart-stopping stock market plunges. Through all of this, their firm has adhered to its investment philosophy. Pay Attention to the Thin Cow is a collection of CornerCap’s writings through 2005. Running the $4 billion benefit funds of R. J. Reynolds worldwide gave the CornerCap founders an opportunity to study the investment industry “close up and personal.” The experience became an investment laboratory where they were exposed to the best of the players in the institutional investment world – the consultants, the banks, and the mutual fund giants, the private advisory firms both in the US and abroad. After a decade of observing what worked and what didn’t, they set up CornerCap, a firm that was based on the best practices of the investors they studied. These CornerCap commentaries consistently describe and reinforce those practices to the reader. They explain, in simple understandable terms, straightforward advice – advice that they always point out is “easy to understand, but very hard to do.”
While it is a collaborative effort, much of the book reflects the personal experiences of Gene Hoots. He has had the unique opportunity to work in the corporate world as a major customer of investment services for twenty plus years and then help create a small, entrepreneurial firm that is a supplier of those same services. He notes that size really doesn’t alter the rules; the same investing principles apply to everyone. Along the way, he also offers opinions on the major issues he believes we are facing in America today, and an occasional view of corporate life from the inside. This book will not give the reader tips on becoming an overnight millionaire, or on day trading as a path to fame and fortune, or even how to spot a “hot” stock. Rather, it is a collection of essays from CornerCap’s first fifteen years that the CornerCap people hope will make the readers a bit more informed about their own investments, and less vulnerable to all of the missteps that can steadily erode their efforts to accumulate wealth – consistent mistakes that can add up to huge losses over a lifetime. Avoiding these common investing mistakes can greatly increase the prospect of meeting long term financial goals, no matter whether you are saving for a secure retirement or your grandchildren’s education. In Pay Attention to the Thin Cow, Gene Hoots shares his experiences from five decades in the corporate and investment worlds, from both the large and small viewpoint, sometimes as a participant and sometimes as an observant bystander.
Pay Attention to the Thin Cow – Review
This collection of Gene’s and CornerCap’s writings over the years is full of great advice, great stories, and great quotes. Readers will gain a better understanding of how the corporate and investment worlds operate from someone who has successfully navigated them from a unique perspective. As the book mentions, it “is not a ‘how to’ book, but rather a collection of essays that should make the reader a bit more informed about his own investments.” I think the best description I can probably give is that it is a book about how to think about the investment process and develop the right mindset and philosophy for long-term investors. It is full of a lot of other great advice and personal stories as well, which makes it very fun to read.
And in case anyone is wondering about the title of the book, below is excerpt where Gene gives an explanation:
“My grandfather once asked my uncle Ken, “Why do you pay so little attention to the advice of others?” Kenneth answered, “Because I am the only one that I’m certain is working for me ALL the time.” He was skeptical about advice, experts of every ilk, and especially politicians. No one was more widely liked than my uncle.
He made a living for over sixty years as a farmer and cattle trader. He was a true contrarian. He told me that at cattle auctions, most people buy the fat, slick cattle – they look healthy and prosperous, and they are priced accordingly. He always bought sickly looking, thin cows. He said there was nothing he could do to improve the fat ones, but he had a fair chance of improving the prospects of the thin ones and selling them for a profit. Investors would be well advised to use his approach in searching for stocks.”
J Koster on October 25, 2012
Pay Attention to the Thin Cow by Gene Hoots